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May 31, 2016

Online audience of journalists on former Local World titles goes under Trinity Mirror spotlight

By Dominic Ponsford

Trinity Mirror plans to assess individual Local World reporters on their online audience figures.

Trinity Mirror took over Local World at the end of last year in a deal which made it by far the UK’s largest regional newspaper publisher.

The moves have been met with apprehension from Local World journalists who, in many cases, have been placed under threat of redundancy.

But a Trinity Mirror spokeperson said: “This is intended to be supportive rather than critical, helping everybody to build their audiences to be as strong as possible.

“Newsroom 3.1 is not about individual targets, but rather a collective aim of building audience, as it as at most publishers with a digital presence. We do this by supporting and encouraging our journalists through one-to-one meetings with editors and other senior editorial staff.”

Plans for individual audience targets were shelved in January in the face of threatened industrial action across the group. Journalists feared the moves would foster a click-bait culture where journalists were forced to chase website traffic at the expense of serious journalism.

But journalists on former Local World titles which are being moved to Trinity Mirror’s digital-first model, accompanied by widespread editorial redundancies, believe their individual online audience performance will be in the spotlight.

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The latest titles to move to Trinity Mirror’s Newsroom 3.1 model are the former Local World titles in the South East of England. More than 13 jobs are set to go on titles including the Essex Chronicle and Kent and Sussex Courier.

One source told Press Gazette that reporters will have daily quotas in terms of the numbers of stories they have to write and that they have been told their individual performance will be regularly assessed in relation to page views and other online metrics. They said that news editors will also be judged against these measures and on how the reporters under them are doing.

A Trinity Mirror spokeperson said: “The South East newsrooms are moving onto the Newsroom 3.1 digital-first model, which aims to provide readers with the content they want, when they want it, on the platforms they choose.

“As with all Trinity Mirror newsrooms which operate under Newsroom 3.1, no individual audience goals are being set. All journalists will have monthly one-to-one meetings with managers to review performance over the previous month and discuss how audiences can be grown.”

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